Sunday 24 September 2017

Chew, chew, chew that is the thing to do

The difficulties of getting alcohol from a starchy substrate is one of the reasons that brewing is much more complicated than wine making. When the vital malting stage is factored in it's a long and involved process. Sake making doesn't involve malting but is just as convoluted.

There is however another, simpler, way of getting fermentable sugar from starch that is used to make Chicha de Muko: chewing grains and spitting them out. Not the most appetising way of making booze but saliva contains an amylase enzyme so the science is sound. I decided to give it a go.

I got a load of corn on the cob when they were reduced in the supermarket and separated the kernels.

Then I got on with the chewing and gobbing stage.

You're then meant to make balls of the chewed maize into cakes and leave them for a day, but I hadn't let the grains dry out enough so it was quite sloppy. I left it for a day and after that it smelt like it was starting to ferment already. I added hot water until the temperature got to 65°C to hopefully help any starch breakdown complete. This made things more dilute than I would have liked with a gravity of 1.020. I guess I should have heated the mash.

When it had cooled I pitched some brewing yeast and after a day there were small but definite signs of fermentation.

A day later they'd subsided though so I guessed it was time to drink it.

My first attempt at scooping out the liquid left me with more bits than a North Eastern IPA so I poured it though a sieve.

This gave me something that I wouldn't have to chew again. The taste was slightly sour and decidedly savoury. I had a couple of glasses which went down easily enough, but there wasn't enough alcohol to have any noticeable effect. I really should give it another go and try and make it stronger but I'm not sure it's worth the effort.


  1. "Getting alcohol from a starchy substrate". Ohh I do like it when you talk dirty to me. (-;

    1. I'm just getting warmed up there, wait till I really get going.

  2. Looks vile. Pimp it up to 8%, get the chewing done on a contract by foreign 10 year old kids and you've got summat you could hawk to the crafterati for £20 a pint.

    1. I daren't tease the crafties again in case a mob appears to hurl insults at me.

  3. There is a great scene in The Burden of Dreams, the documentary about the making of Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, set deep in the Amazon. The scene shows local women making Masato, which is made from chewed and spit and fermented yucca root. Herzog wants his lead actor, Klaus Kinski, to drink some Masato for the movie and Kinski refuses in horror, terrified of being infected, and finally substitutes evaporated milk.

    I'm so glad you made this so I can have a sense of what Masato is actually like.

  4. Oooo..haven't heard of that one. I wonder if the local supermarket sells yucca root?